After a Christmas hiatus, Throwback Thursday is back this week.
For this week's throwback, I picked one of the rare times the NFL saw action on New Year's Day. And the game I'll highlight, despite being meaningless in terms of the playoffs, was one of my favorite that I ever attended.
In the 2005 regular season, the Indianapolis Colts were the best team, and frankly it wasn't close. The defense was helping to win the close games, and the offense was led by Peyton Manning coming off of his record setting 2004 season.
At 13-0, the Colts had wrapped up the division and the top seed in the playoffs. A loss to the San Diego Chargers (typical) was disappointing, sure, but not devastating.
Then everything changed.
On December 23, 2005, it was reported that Tony Dungy's son James was found dead in a Tampa apartment. The news was a shock to everyone.
For Dungy and the Colts, the Week 16 game in Seattle took a back seat to these events.
I think it's safe to say that the majority of fans who turned out on New Year's Day to watch the Colts and Cardinals were there more to support Dungy than to watch a game that had no bearing on the postseason.
Manning got the start, but only played a series. The rest of the starters, who were active, only played one more series.
Behind two touchdowns passes from Sorgi, the Colts jumped out to a 17-3 lead in the third quarter. However, the Colts couldn't put the Cardinals away, mainly due to lack of a running game. James Mungro led the way with seven yards on one carry, and Dominic Rhodes was next with five yards on four carries.
In the third, McCown found Larry Fitzgerald in the end zone to cut the lead to seven. Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin would become only the third pair of receivers on the same team to each catch 100 passes in the same season.
Neil Rackers would tack on his second field goal in the final frame to pull Arizona within four.
The Cardinals would get the ball back with a chance to march down the field with under two minutes to win. McCown orchestrated a drive that got Arizona all the way down to the Colts' one yard line with under 20 seconds to play. Fourth down.
McCown would call his own number for the QB sneak and would score the go-ahead touchdown with 13 seconds left.
Or did he?
The play would go under review to determine the outcome of the game. The replays the stadium showed that McCown seemed to lose the football before being ruled down. The question was if he got into the end zone first.
I'll never forget Ron Winter coming out after a (surprisingly) quick review and saying, "The reply booth is not working, we have to use the other one," (or something to that effect) before trotting across the field to the other replay booth.
Moments later, Winter came back out and announced that not only did McCown not score, but fumbled as well. The fumble was recovered by the Colts, and the team was a Sorgi knee away from a record 14 wins.
The real moment came, though, when safety Mike Doss handed Dungy the game ball. Dungy held the ball over his head in a rare display of emotion on the sideline.
There were fewer times I have heard the RCA Dome louder.